Sunday 18 August 2019

'Busted-up' Frampton survives Belfast brawl

Carl Frampton, right, lands a jab on Horacio Garcia during their featherweight bout in Belfast. Photo: Sportsfile
Carl Frampton, right, lands a jab on Horacio Garcia during their featherweight bout in Belfast. Photo: Sportsfile

Seán McGoldrick

While they endured contrasting fortunes inside the ring, Belfast's three boxing amigos, Carl Frampton, Paddy Barnes and Jamie Conlan further endeared themselves to their loyal fan base for different reasons on Saturday night.

It was Frampton's first fight in his native city since February 2015. Since then he won and lost the WBA world featherweight title and split with his long-time mentor Barry McGuigan and trainer Shane McGuigan. But there was redemption of a kind as he fashioned a unanimous points win (98-93, 97-93, 96-93) over a one-time sparring opponent Horacio Garcia.

He shares a boxing gym in his native Mexico with boxing superstar Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez who was ringside to support the underdog. Garcia had been specially chosen by Frampton, though he was probably having second thoughts about his choice midway through their 10-round scrap as the Mexican, who has never been stopped, threatened to spoil the party.

"You'd have to hit him with a sledgehammer for him to go over," acknowledged Frampton, who described his own performance as mediocre.

"I needed a fight desperately after the bad year I had. I feel like I finished it off on a high. It was a good fight for the crowd, I think they enjoyed it.

"I did good things at times. I did not so good things as well. I got dragged into his fight but that's what happens at times. The most important thing is that I got my hands raised at the end."

Even though he picked up a nasty cut over his right eye and had to dip deeper than expected into his reserves to get the win, he still enjoyed the experience.

"It was a hard night but the crowd loved it. I'm sitting here with a busted-up face but I enjoy I fight like that. And I don't know why that is but I think a lot of boxers will tell you the same. Right now, I am enjoying this game more than I ever have since turning pro in 2009. I am in a happy place."

Frampton's new promoter Frank Warren confirmed that as part of his deal with Frampton he had agreed to give him an opportunity to win a world title in his home town. "That is what I want to deliver and the fans here are just great."

For Frampton, of course, the Holy Grail is an outdoor world championship fight in Windsor Park. Given that Warren manages two top-rated featherweights, Lee Selby, who is the current IBF title holder, and the unbeaten Josh Warrington, the odds are that Frampton will face one of them late next summer in Windsor Park.

Selby defends his title next month in London and provided he wins he is likely to face Warrington in late spring with the winner taking on Frampton, who will probably have another warm-up fight in the spring.

After a somewhat ponderous start, the professional career of double Olympic bronze medallist Paddy Barnes graduated to a higher level when stopped Nicaraguan Eliecer Quezada in the sixth round to secure the second pro belt in 12 months. He now holds the WBO European flyweight title as well as the organisation's inter-continental belt.

Barnes has set his sights on boxing in the US on the undercard of Michael Conlan's likely show in Madison Square Garden on St Patrick's weekend.

Vociferous

"It was unbelievable to fight in front of this Belfast crowd. It was unreal. I wanted to give the crowd something to shout about and hopefully I did that."

But even the vociferous crowd couldn't will Jamie Conlan to win his IBF world super flyweight title contest against title holder Jerwin Ancajas. On four occasions, in a contest that mercifully referee Steve Gray finally called off in the sixth round, the 31-year-old rose Phoenix-like from the canvas to fight on.

Ancajas' ferocious body punches did nearly all the damage but comprehensive though the defeat was it merely enhanced Conlan's reputation as one of the bravest fighters in the game. But it is difficult to see a future for him in the ring after his defeat.

It was a marathon show even by Frank Warren standards. It lasted seven-and-a-half hours with 53 rounds of boxing spread over 12 bouts. Ironically, considering its longevity it also featured the shortest world title fight in history.

Officially, it took 11 seconds - in reality it was about six - for defending WBO world bantamweight champion Zolani Tete to dispatch his fellow South African Siboniso Gonya.

Six seconds had elapsed when Tete's first punch - a vicious right hook to the jaw - knocked Gonya unconscious. Wisely, referee Phil Edwards summoned medical help before completing the mandatory count and the stricken boxer was eventually able to walk from the ring.

But Tete's awesome punch was a reminder to Belfast's newest world champion Ryan Burnett that the South African is after his IBF and WBA belts which he only unified a month ago. Frank Warren, who promotes Tete, made no secret of his ambition to see the pair do battle in 2018.

Irish Independent

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